A blog on practice in the Nation’s second-most powerful court

D.C. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman dies at 86

The biggest news at the court this fall so far has not been a decision—the court is enjoying its usual post-summer lull—but the death of Judge Laurence Silberman.

Judge Silberman died yesterday at age 86, after serving on the D.C. Circuit for 37 years, and before that serving as Deputy Attorney General, Solicitor of Labor, and Ambassador to Yugoslavia. He led a fascinating life, including, at one point, advising Justice Antonin Scalia against pursuing the vice presidency.

That last anecdote comes from law professor Aaron Nielson, who’s written an enlightening remembrance. Professor Josh Blackman reminds us that Judge Silberman, a stout conservative, wrote an opinion for the D.C. Circuit upholding the Affordable Care Act. Paul Clement interviewed Judge Silberman on camera for over three-and-a-half hours, covering personal history, as well as topics like the importance of oral argument and the value of a short brief. David Lat has collected tributes from all nine sitting Justices and many others.

Clement also wrote a remembrance that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. The link is in the comments (note the paywall), but here’s the opening:

America has lost a great public servant, a consequential and principled jurist. Judge Laurence Hirsch Silberman, who died Sunday at age 86, served for almost four decades on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District Columbia, widely regarded as the nation’s second-highest court. He served with six future Supreme Court justices, from Antonin Scalia to Ketanji Brown Jackson. He wrote important opinions and spotted lurking jurisdictional defects as he strived to model his vision of judicial restraint.